National Coaches Week Reason #1

nicole#1 Coach Nicole.

I met Nicole at work, but I didn’t find out until after months of begging and pleading for her to go out with me that she had a secret life as a gymnastics coach. I remember the first time I went to the gym to meet her after coaching. I was fascinated with the skills the kids were doing, I was amazed at how she handled the complex tasks of directing the kids, correcting mistakes, assigning work and staying engaged with her athletes. Her style was different from the other coaches and I knew that I wanted to be involved. Her influence on me as a coach has been undeniable. She was the one who taught me the basic principles of being a good coach. Never sit down. Never lose your cool. Plan ahead. Be early for class. Most importantly though, be a coach first and a friend second.

Nicole was my guide, my lead coach when I got qualified and became her CIT. She helped me to develop my coaching style and as I gained in skill and confidence we became a great team coaching some amazing kids to incredible heights.

With the arrival of our daughter Nicole had to step away from coaching and although she had been in gymnastics for 16 years as an athlete and a coach I could tell she missed it. I missed coaching with her and so when she came back to the sport last year I was thrilled. To this day I still watch her coach and I am amazed at her ability to entertain and educate the children. For me, there is no other coach like her, she is an awesome role model for anyone who wants to be a great coach. She taught me everything I needed to know just by being an awesome leader and I will be forever grateful to her. I am so fortunate to have been able to share the 3 most incredible things in my life with her. In fact I can’t think of how my life could have been any better, being married to Nicole, having a beautiful daughter together and being able to share my journey as a gymnastics coach with her.

I’m the luckiest guy alive.


National Coaches Week Reason #2

KaitNik#2 Broken ankles and broken hearts. How my perspective changed in 2015.

Every coach knows you can’t stay emotionally separate from your kids. Every season they weasel their way into your heart leaving sweaty little footprints on your soul. You want the best for them, you get their best from them in any way you can and the trust that is built in a dangerous sport like gymnastics is unlike any other. That’s why retiring athletes are celebrated and missed so much, that bond which can be years in the making is a treasure. But there is a darker flipside to this coin.

Nikol and Kaitlyn were friends, friendly competitors and hard working gymnasts. The energy they brought to the gym was fun yet focused, both girls were learning quickly and mastering difficult skills. Nikol was in her last season, soon to retire, eager to get her floor and beam routines one last time when she broke her ankle just before Christmas. The timing was bad, knowing how long the recovery was and the dates of competition I knew in my heart she wouldn’t have time to get back in time to compete. Her season was effectively over, and with it her time as a competitive gymnast was done.

The rest of the group kept on working, Kaitlyn seemed to work even harder, mastering advanced skills that even brought attention from other coaches and athletes. She worked so hard it was an inspiration to me and as her coach I could not have been more proud. The night before the last competition of the year, Kaitlyn broke her ankle.

I was devastated. I’m sure looking back I was more frustrated and hurt than she was. What was worse (as if that seemed possible) it flashed through my mind that this may be the last time Kaitlyn would train as a competitive gymnast. A month or so later, she retired.

I was not prepared for any of this. 3 words I had abandoned as a child crossed my lips. This isn’t fair. But life isn’t fair. We shouldn’t expect it to be. I realized that I had been focused on the wrong thing. I was allowing their disappointing endings to spoil my memories.

Yes it sucked. No, it wasn’t the ending we had hoped for. But I came to realize that my immense emotional reaction to both these events was because I had done my job. I had given everything I had into my girls and seen incredible rewards. I understood the heartbreak was inevitable given the unfortunate circumstances. Yes it still bothers me, it is still fresh in my mind after all. But I think at least in the future, I will be better prepared for disappointment if it comes my way. In the end, although we went through 2 coaches and 7 athletes last season, I also gained an amazing coaching partner, a wonderful group of girls and a heart filled once again with the joy that is coaching the best individual sport in the world.

Don’t hate life for what it took from you. Honour the memory of what it gave you and be grateful for the opportunity of sharing that time with others.


National Coaches Week Reason #3

evo#3 Sarah Smith and Evolution Gymnastics Aurora

Fall of 2010 I walked into EGA for the first time not knowing if I would ever coach gymnastics again. I was happy to do some strength and conditioning for both adults and the kids and kept hoping that I would one day be able to coach competitive athletes again. I realized during that time that gymnastics as a sport had taken ownership of my heart and that coaching was something I was meant to do. Sarah Smith and Bruce Smith took me in and made me feel part of something truly special, a growing, close knit club of people committed to the athletes and their success. They took a chance on me and I will be forever grateful for that. By February of 2011 I was handed a group of young ladies that changed my life. Dasha, Elissa, Emma, Kelci,Liza and Maddison survived that first season with the kind of commitment and work you expect from champions. Words can’t express how proud I was to coach them, or how happy I was to coach alongside them these last years.

They are my girls, they are my athletes and they are my friends.

National Coaches Week Reason #4

stefbrigjess#4 My first solo competitive kids.

Back in 2007 I was given 8 kids, no instruction manual and a stopwatch. Little did I know what a life changing experience it would be. Stef, Lia, Anastasia, Sarah, Anita, Jessica, Brigitte and Maddie had mostly trained with me before but this time it was just them and me. We laughed, we cried (well, they did) I changed them and they forever changed me. In so many ways this was my greatest coaching education and to share it with them was truly an amazing experience.
Stefani, Brigitte and Jessica were so often the highlights and greatest challenges of my rookie year and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

National Coaches Week. Reason #5

This past week was National Coaches Week and to celebrate I wrote about the biggest contributing factors to my coaching career. They were very well received on Instagram and Facebook so I thought I would replicate them here for posterity.


#5 Karren Lee

My first head coach and the person who really clarified to me the need for specific, deliberate and consistent corrections for the athletes. I was new to gymnastics and I was able to trust Karren to help me define my coaching style and to adjust to coaching an all female squad. I probably never adequately expressed my thanks to her but she really was a major factor in my early development. Thanks Karren!